Retiring "Free Marcia Powell"
Thanks for visiting. Peace out - Peg.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
FBI WATCH: documents reveal attack on democratic rights of anti-war and international solidarity activists
Center for Constitutional Rights
------from the Committee to Stop FBI Repression (stopfbi.net)------
Secret FBI documents reveal attack on democratic rights of anti-war and international solidarity activists
Documents Released on May 18th (PDF format):
- CSFR Statement
- Operation Order
- Interrogation Questions
- Surveillance Photos
- Seizure and Subpoena
- Blank Forms
- Single PDF file that includes all six of the above documents
Committee to Stop FBI Repression Statement (May 18, 2011)
FBI agents, who raided the home of Mick Kelly and Linden Gawboy, took with them thousands of pages of documents and books, along with computers, cell phones and a passport. By mistake, they also left something behind; the operation plans for the raid, “Interview questions” for anti-war and international solidarity activists, duplicate evidence collection forms, etc. The file of secret FBI documents was accidently mixed in with Gawboy’s files, and was found in a filing cabinet on April 30. We are now releasing them to the public.
The raid at the Kelly/Gawboy home was one of the many coordinated raids at Minneapolis homes and the offices of the Anti-War Committee on September 24, 2010. Two additional homes were raided in Chicago. To date, 23 anti-war and international solidarity activists have received subpoenas to appear in front of a Chicago Grand Jury headed by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.
Taken as a whole, the secret FBI file shows the willful disregard for the rights of anti-war and international solidarity activists – particularly the first amendment rights to freedom of speech and association. The documents make it clear that legal activity in solidarity with the peoples of Colombia and Palestine is being targeted. The documents use McCarthy-era language, which gives one the feel that the 1950s red scare has returned. And finally, the documents show the chilling plans for the armed raid that took place at the home of Kelly and Gawboy on September 24, 2010.
The documents show that public advocacy for the people of Colombia was the genesis of the FBI investigation. The ‘Operations Order’ for the FBI SWAT Team states “The captioned case was initially predicated on the activities of Meredith Aby and Jessica Rae Sundin in support of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a U.S. State Department designated foreign terrorist organization (FTO), to include their travel to FARC controlled territory.”
While we have no way of knowing if it was speaking tours or educational events on Colombia that got them so riled up, there is something we can state with certainty: There is nothing illegal about traveling to Colombia, or visiting the areas where the FARC is in charge. This is something that journalists, including U.S. journalists, do, and we have yet to hear of their doors being broken down. Upon returning from Colombia, Aby and Sundin spoke at many public events about their experiences.
The FBI interview questions for Meredith Aby ask “1) Have you ever met Lilia [sic] Obando? 2) Where? 3) When? 4) Why?” Liliana Obando is a well-known Colombian trade unionist who spoke in the Twin Cities at an event organized by the Anti-War Committee. She received a visa to travel in the U.S. from the U.S. government.
She spoke about the sickening human rights violations that were being carried out by the Colombian government and its paramilitary allies. While we understand that the Colombian government is the third largest recipient of U.S military aid, and that government officials would prefer that that people here in the U.S. don’t get a chance to hear about human rights abuses committed with their tax dollars, the fact remains: there is nothing criminal in trying to learn the truth. The FBI is attacking the right of anti-war activists to speak out against U.S. foreign policy.
Likewise, the “interview questions” make a big deal about delegations that visited Palestine. The Israeli authorities try to disrupt these trips because people return from them and expose the gross human rights violations that are carried out in the context of the military occupation. But once again – this is a legal activity that activists have every right to engage in.
The documents show how the FBI investigation expanded outwards, starting with Colombia and soon focusing on Palestine. How did the FBI get involved? The most likely explanation is that a undercover police officer going by the name “Karen Sullivan” infiltrated the Anti-War Committee shortly before the 2008 Republican National Convention. Among the first people she met were Meredith Aby and Jess Sundin, who often spoke at public events about what they saw in Colombia.
Karen Sullivan - the professional liar - then gave her reports to the FBI, paving the road to the September 24 raids.
The New McCarthyism
When Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy went on a red-baiting witch hunt in the 1950s, communists, socialists and progressives of all stripes were hounded out of jobs, housing, the entertainment industry and institutions of higher education. More than a few people were jailed for their ideas. The secret FBI documents indicate an investigation is underway that takes its cues from this shameful past.
The FBI documents include 57 interview questions about Freedom Road Socialist Organization, the organization that some of those who were raided or subpoenaed to the Grand Jury are members of. The questions include; “Are you a member?” “How many members are there?’’ “Who are the leaders?” And on and on and on. It is like pages of the calendar have been turned back 60 years.
In the United States there is a constitutional right to association. Like-minded people are allowed to form groups and political parties that promote their views. FRSO members, along with others, were very active in organizing the massive anti-war protests at the Republican National Convention. They participate in the labor movement, community organizing, and the anti-war movement too. And they advocate that capitalism should be abolished and replaced with socialism. Given the bank bailout, continuous wars and the economic crisis it is not unreasonable to see these activities and views as a breath of fresh air.
In the documents, the “Operations order” for FBI SWAT for “Operation Principal Parts” the raid on the Kelly/Gawboy home has the word “DANGEROUS” in underlined bold type at the top of the page. FBI agents were told to bring assault rifles, machine guns and two extra clips of ammunition for each of their side arms. Two paramedics were to stand by in the event of causalities. Other documents include photos of Kelly and Gawboy, as well as pictures of stairs leading to their front door and the front door itself.
What transpired on September 24 was this. Gawboy was awoken by the FBI pounding on the door. When she stated she wanted to see the search warrant, agents used a battering ram on the door, breaking the hardware and shattering a fish tank in the process. Gawboy was taken down the front steps in her nightgown while the FBI swat team entered her home.
The justification for this armed home invasion is given in the “Operations plan” - “Kelly is believed to be the owner of an unknown number of firearms which may be at his residence...”
Kelly, who learned to shoot while in Boy Scouts, owns guns – just like a lot of Minnesotans. The “Operation Plan” also claims that Kelly “offered to provide weapons training” - an outright lie that originated with the police infiltrator “Karen Sullivan” or a fiction writer at the FBI office.
The bottom line is this: there can be no justification for the raid in the first place, and still less for it to be done by agents smashing doors and wielding machine guns. This is a recipe for people getting hurt or killed. The events of September 24 and the ongoing grand jury are not about “material support of terrorism,” as any normal person would understand it. What is happening is this: anti-war and international solidarity activists are being targeted for practicing our rights to speak out and organize. We have done nothing wrong. Our activism is making this world a better place.
|1-CSFR statement.pdf||74.42 KB|
|2-Operation Order.pdf||1.6 MB|
|3-Interrogation Questions.pdf||2.2 MB|
|4-Surveillance photos.pdf||3.66 MB|
|5-Seizure and Subpoena.pdf||2.45 MB|
|6-Blank forms.pdf||2.56 MB|
|CSFR May 18 documents ALL.pdf||12.54 MB|
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Comprehensive Trial Management Conference
June 9, 2011 - 8:45am
Maricopa County Central Court Building
(W. Jefferson St.)
Maricopa County Courthouse
May 18, 2011
The Comprehensive Trial Management Conference was to be held today (May 18, 2011), but it was pushed back and everything that occurred was done up at the bench, where the public couldn't witness it or determine what was said in the transcripts...I suspect because I had been protesting loudly outside before the hearing, confronting Gerster when he arrived (my taxes paid his salary, after all - and he hurt people in violation of my trust). All I was able to catch Judge Verdin saying to his attorney, who requested that they approach to discuss the case, was that "this is a delicate situation."
Damn straight it is. There are a lot of us mad as hell about what Gerster and fellow officer Alan Keesee did. Gerster and Keesee have more rights as perpetrators of assault than William Hughes has as their victims do now. As some of you may recall, if we, as citizens, are victimized while in custody, we're excluded from the constitutional protections and rights we have when crimes are perpetrated against us in the community, effectively silencing our voice in court proceedings, rights to restitution, etc. if a cop is the perpetrator.
I believe they are buying time for people to forget what Gerster did to us, the rest of his "victims"; chances seem very good that the Maricopa County Attorney is about to offer him a deal. The upcoming trial was cancelled in anticipation of a deal being reached beforehand.
Please contact Bill Montgomery's office and urge that this officer's entire prosecution be made visible and transparent to the public, as he violated us all with the abuse of his office and the assaults on his prisoners.
Remind him that Gerster assaulted at least two "VULNERABLE adults" in custody (making him a repeat, violent offender), and could have been charged with class 2 (not the lower class 6) felonies for that, and must not be allowed to walk with anything less than felony charges and prison time if they give him a deal.
Mr. Bill Montgomery
Maricopa County Attorney
301 W. Jefferson St. PHX 85003
I'd appreciate copies of your letters to post publicly. Send them to:
Peggy Plews / PO Box 20494 /PHX, AZ 85036
Please also express your continued outrage over the conduct of MCSO officers, and your desire to see justice served, to:
Editor, Arizona Republic / P.O. Box 1950 /Phoenix, AZ 85001
Finally, I looked up the status of William Franklin Hughes III's case. The MCAO still appears to be prosecuting him for the petty offenses (like criminal damage and indecent exposure - most likely secondary to the symptoms of his mental illness) that landed him in Gerster's and Keesee's pre-trial "care" in the psychiatric wing of the county jail in the first place...he was even ordered to undergo competency exams by the judge before they would proceed any further. I don't understand why he's going on trial, given what Montgomery had to say recently about the need to divert these folks from prosecution in the first place. I just discovered that his trial was supposed to begin this am, which I missed.
You would think the MCAO would recognize the beatings he received in jail as punishment enough - and poor William was out of his mind when he got pounded on by those guys. So, folks, please also ask Mr. Montgomery what the deal is with William's prosecution. Those are our tax dollars he's eating up in this unnecessary and cruel endeavor to punish a young man who was already terribly traumatized in custody over "crimes" that really hurt no one else...
Maricopa County Courthouse
(3rd St/W. Jefferson, PHX)
March 11, 2011
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Thursday, May 5, 2011
For those of you who only have a cursory awareness of Black Panther Party history and the story of George Jackson (if any at all), Angela Davis is more than a legendary-black-militant-turned-
I'd encourage anyone interested in the issue of criminal justice to read Davis' work and catch a lecture or two on Youtube. Her message this evening was consistent with her written words and strong on principles of abolitionism; Google it if you want more, though. Something more awesome happened in Tempe, AZ tonight than Angela Davis' talk that I need to write about. It's been unfolding all along, really....
I showed up at NEEB Hall early today - somewhere around noon, I think, to scope it out and chalk the walk. There's a great canvas out in front of the place - it was a great spread, though my camcorder photos are all grainy and I didn't pull out my 35mm...in that respect my work was lost. There was hardly any traffic until the event, too, so I didn't have much chance to interact with curious on-lookers, as I usually do. I killed a lot of time in the heat, and started to get bummed.
But as the hour approached and more people began to arrive, I found myself surrounded by friends, old and new. Anarchists, former prisoners, loved ones of those passed, ASU students, members of the immigrant rights' community, and even a few Wobblies (yep - the IWW folks) have all been showing support for prisoner rights' actions of late, organizing and standing in solidarity where our paths overlap - I seem to be in the middle of many of those intersections right now.
Anyway, as a result of all my comrades' assistance, I had a ton of t-shirts with prisoner mug shots floating among the standing-room-only crowd this evening: at least 15 victims of prison suicide, neglect or violence were represented. Again, I was slow on the draw with my camera, but at one point after the lecture everyone was milling around the AZ Prison Watch banner out front: God, I hope someone out there had the presence of mind to take pictures of them. I was just kind of stunned, really - seeing these folks gather from a distance in all those shirts, I realized how much power we actually have among us, within us, and behind us...
So, I have no doubt that what we have together far exceeds the power against which we fight. I'm not just talking about pushing through some feel-good legislation or coercing the ADC to make a few reforms. Prison abolition is not a losing battle, not even in this forsaken place. That's going to help me sleep a little better tonight. Thanks all.
And thanks, Professor Davis, for coming to town today.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
05/ 3/11 10:50 AM ET
Stumbling further into the quagmire of a national public relations disaster, drastic new measures by the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) officials have turned the "manufactured crisis" over the Ethnic Studies/Mexican American Studies Program into a troubling moral crisis for the city --and the country.
As Tucson school officials appear to unravel daily with increasing controversy, Mexican American Studies (MAS) students and UNIDOS activists are now emerging as the calmest standard-bearers of civil discourse for the community.
In an op-ed today, two MAS students made a simple request: If the TUSD officials are truly interested in dialogue, they should table a controversial resolution that has divided the community.
Instead, in an alarming crackdown on the non-violent UNIDOS student campaign last week that attracted national praise for its celebratory actions and demands for basic democratic involvement in education, the backpedaling TUSD superintendent John Pedicone has shocked the community by hiring costly armed guards to monitor this Tuesday's rescheduled governing school board vote over a controversial school board resolution to strip the accreditation of the Ethnic Studies Program.
Only months ago, the Chicago-transplanted Pedicone declared the draconian state ban on Ethnic Studies was unconstitutional and a challenge to the law would be "the first hurdle." In a candidate's forum last fall, Pedicone even admitted: "If you look at the data, it is hard to argue with the success this program has with a historically under served population." In fact, a recent TUSD analysis demonstrated the achievements of the MAS program.
In a disturbing provocation this Sunday, Pedicone, who reportedly lives out of the district in the affluent suburb of Oro Valley, published an incendiary op-ed in the Arizona Daily Star newspaper that offensively denigrated student efforts "as pawns," blamed adults for "abhorrent" behavior, and falsely categorized last week's widely denounced resolution vote as only a "discussion."
As Tucson attorney Richard Martinez noted last week in a debate with TUSD board president Mark Stegement, the divisive resolution prematurely subverts an unfinished state audit in disarray, as well as a federal suit challenging the constitutionality of the new state law banning Ethnic Studies. In a quiet but stunning smackdown of Stegemen's misguided efforts, Martinez framed the TUSD effort as part of a "manufactured crisis."
This is the simple truth: Compounding the shameless Ethnic Studies witch hunt by extremist state officials, the Democraty Party-led TUSD school administrators have triggered a "moral crisis" over their seeming disconnection to the actual city of Tucson, by rebuffing MAS student and UNIDOS participation, and blatantly disregarding the reality of the district's majority of Mexican American students and the city's fervent and deeply rooted Chicano movement heritage.
On the anniversary today of the "Children's Crusade" in the Civil Right Movements, when students took the forefront of Martin Luther King's Birmingham campaign in 1963, Mexican American Studies student group UNIDOS is not only ramping up its efforts to keep the district's acclaimed program alive but teach the faltering school administrators a lesson in civility and democracy.
As the Tucson students reminded their community, Martin Luther King, Jr wrote his historic "Letter from the Birmingham Jail," on "Why We Can't Wait," as he faced similar criticism of his protests as "unruly." King wrote: "For years now, I have heard the word 'Wait! ... This 'Wait' has almost always meant 'Never.'" Nearly a half century ago, Alabama students recognized King's call "to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation."
"When youth transparently vocalize that they are unsatisfied with decisions made on their education," said 20-year-old MAS alumni, UA journalism student and UNIDOS activist Elisa Meza, "that should motivate the elected school board officials to initiate the civil discourse they believe we haven't already requested. Since February, TUSD have been pressured by the youth to initiate just that. To blame the youth that direct dialogue should have been the first step is a tactic to switch the narrative to imply immaturity on our actions. When, in reality, they've been incredibly immature to have ignored our voices in the first place."
As graduating and college-bound MAS high school Lisette Cota spelled out last month, UNIDOS has been asking for dialogue with the school officials for months.
For many long-time community members, the student uprising last week in Tucson recalled the Chicano student walkouts in the community in 1969, and marks the beginning of a new civil rights movement.
Consider this time line provided by UNIDOS over the last four months:
Jan 3- Two hours before Tom Horne's position changes from State Superintendent to Attorney General he serves a letter to TUSD calling them out of compliance with 2281 and has 60 days to eliminate the program before the states begins withholding funds. He presents "evidence" of the classes' non-compliance such as testimony from anonymous teachers, out of context quotes from books like Rudolfo Acuna's Occupied America and Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and lyrics from Chicano hip hop groups "El Vuh" and "Aztlan Underground."
The 11 teachers along with their attorney Richard Martinez and Save Ethnic Studies.org, the non-profit organization providing the legal defense for the teachers, counter his press conference with their own a few hours later in Tucson.
Jan 8- John Roll, Chief Arizona U.S. District Judge who was assigned to see the case against HB 2281, is killed along with five others at a "Congress on your Corner" event with Congresswomen Gabrielle Giffords. Congresswoman Giffords is shot and 19 others are injured. A 45-day extension is added to TUSD's 60 day deadline to become in compliance in HB 2281.
Jan 11- The 11 plaintiffs announce to TUSD school board members that if the district does not join their lawsuit or create their own battling the state of AZ on the constitutionality of the bill, they will be added onto the lawsuit as defendants. They give TUSD 48 hrs to reply.
Jan 14- TUSD announces to the "Arizona Daily Star" that the district is going to be in compliance with the bill, making whatever compromises to the program to do so. TUSD is now going to be added on to the lawsuit Acosta v. The State of AZ.
Jan 24- The five who were found guilty are sentenced to 10 hours of community service and fines.
Feb 5- Mexican American Studies Community Advisory Committee hosts first Community Forum in Support of TUSD's Ethnic Studies Program to educate about the success of the program and rally support on combating HB 2281. Students of the program, parents of the students, teachers and staff of the department, and elected officials speak on behalf of Ethnic Studies.
Feb 8- At TUSD school board meeting U.N.I.D.O.S. (United Non-discriminatory Individuals Demanding Our Studies); a new Tucson youth coalition of students from local high schools, alumni and community members who formed in response of the growing attacks on education and culture by Arizona legislature, make their grand debut to the community and TUSD board members with a press conference.
Representatives of the group demand a sit-down meeting with all TUSD school board members and that the district, the State Board of Education and the state of Arizona must act in accordance to international human rights laws, which HB 2281 violates.
A musical, cultural and artistic celebration continues outside of TUSD 1010 building after the demands are read to school board members during the 'call to the audience.'
Feb. 28- UNIDOS has a sit down discussion with only two of the five TUSD board members Adelita Grijalva and Judy Burns and present the positive impacts that Raza Studies does for the Latino community and what negative results will occur to the district's students if TUSD doesn't do everything in its power to protect the classes.
Mar. 8- UNIDOS representatives make a public statement in response to their meeting with the two school board members during Call to the Audience at TUSD school board meeting. UNIDOS demands for an announcement by the board members in the next 24 hours that they will keep the classes as they are no matter what the state may do. UNIDOS urges the district to act in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. who said, "One has not only a legal, but moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws."
That very same morning of the school board meeting, unbeknownst to the community, the district made its first move to dismantle the program from the inside. Superintendent John Pedicone gave his position as supervisor over Director of Student Equity, Augustine Romero and Mexican-American Studies Director, Sean Arce to Asst. Superintendent Lupita Garcia -- who has openly made statements in the past that she would like to see the department abolished.
Mar 11- Mexican American Studies Community Advisory Committee holds press conference outside TUSD 1010 building denouncing the move of positions.
Mar 16- The Arizona Department of Education and State Superintendent John Huppental hire the Cambium Learning Group of Dallas, TX to conduct a four to six week curriculum audit of the Mexican American Studies Department to evaluate whether the program is in compliance with HB 2281 and meets up to state standards. The audit group will make unannounced classroom visits, interview students and staff, and evaluate teaching materials.
Mar 17- Save Ethnic Studies sends a letter to the TUSD governing board bringing to light the criminal history of Steve Gallon, who is appointed as head consultant of the audit for Mexican American Studies. Steve Gallon is the former superintendent of Plainfield School District in New Jersey and was arrested in 2010 with 11 criminal charges including conspiring to commit theft of more than $10,000 of educational services.
Mar 18- Steve Gallon resigns from the position following Save Ethnic Studies' coverage of his criminal past and is replaced by Luanne Nelson.
Mar 21- State audit for Mexican American Studies begins and Save Ethnic Studies with attorney Richard Martinez issue a press release calling the audit unlawful and a waste of tax payer money which will cost us $170,000. Martinez brings into question how the audit could possibly remain unbiased when the state of Arizona is hiring this group to investigate the teachers who are suing the state over the constitutionality of HB 2281. He also points out additional violations such as Federal Family, Educational, and Privacy Rights Act of 1974.
Mark Stegeman, president of the Tucson Unified School District governing board, submits an opinion piece to the Arizona Daily Star calling for Mexican American Studies to transition to Hispanic Student Services, which would only focus on extracurricular activities, and for the classes, who currently count as accredited core English and Social Studies classes, to be reduced down to elective classes.
April 6- The 11 teachers suing the state refuse to meet with the auditors in a "focus group discussion." Save Ethnic Studies sends a letter on their behalf to Superintendent Pedicone, declining the invitation because the audit lacks any legal authority, defined terms and remains unknown if the persons conducting the audits have any expertise in Mexican American critical race theory.
April 11- Sally Rusk and Maria Federico-Brummer, 2 of the 11 teachers express in an op-ed how any sort of compromise to the program is unacceptable. They explain why transition the classes from accredited core classes to electives would kill the program. They further defend the program which meets and excels far beyond the achievement gap for the Latino population, which is the second largest failing in TUSD as well as its majority population. In fact most of schools where these classes are taught have a 90 percent minority population -- mainly Latino.
April 12- UNIDOS boycotts TUSD school board meeting due to silenced youth voice. Students in press release recount the lack of response to their demands for the district, superintendent and board members to show true support for the program. Instead, all the district has done is refuse to join the teacher lawsuit or initiate one of their own, released a resolution declaring compliance with an unjust HB 2281, are currently cooperating with a biased State audit of the classes, and the board president Mark Stegeman is publicly advocated for killing our Ethnic Studies program by turning our classes into electives.
As the nation watches today's historic meeting in Tucson, Pedicone and the TUSD officials will have the choice of reaffirming the process of democratic involvement with UNIDOS and all students and community members, as Martin Luther King wrote, "to heal" the legacies of the past and move the district forward, or retreat deeper into the quagmire of the state's embarrassing witch hunt.
Let's go support them today, folks!
Tuscon Unified School District's Board is meeting today at 5:30pm at TUSD HQ!
Reporter: Steve Nunez
Web Producer: David Rush
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - KGUN9 News has learned TUSD will hold a special meeting to consider a controversial ethnic studies proposal on Tuesday. And it will be held 5:30pm at district headquarters.
9 On Your Side reporter Steve Nunez was at the board's agenda committee meeting today where the decision was made to change the meeting for the second time.
The meeting was originally scheduled for Tuesday this week. But moments before the start, protestors stormed the board room. Some chained themselves to board members' chairs and refused to leave. TUSD Superintendent Dr. John Pedicone then canceled the meeting.
Board members re-scheduled the meeting for Thursday May 5 at the Catalina High School auditorium. But the agenda committee changed its mind and moved it two days earlier and back to district headquarters.
Board members said they were concerned over security at Catalina High. They said security will be beefed up inside the board room, in the hallway and outside the building. In addition, when the board room fills up, authorities will lock the doors and won't allow anybody else in.
Doctor Pedicone told KGUN9 News he was upset at the student's actions Tuesday night and vowed to keep them from holding back the democratic process.
Ethnic studies supporters were demonstrating over a proposal by Dr. Mark Stegeman that would make most ethnic studies courses electives. Currently students have a choice of taking U.S. history or Mexican American studies to graduate.
Monday, May 2, 2011
1. Blogger/Human Rights Activist Peggy Plews reading a Perryville prisoner's letter re: work conditions at Martori Farms.
2. Disabled worker, prisoner's mom Kini Seawright confronts prison segregation. Son, Dana, was murdered in ASPC-Lewis/Stiner (July 2010) for being friends with a Mexican and refusing to carry out a satisfactory hit on another Latino prisoner...
Please ask Representative Cecil Ash to open legislative hearings on conditions in the AZ state prisons through the AZ House Health and Human Services Committee:
AZ State Legislature
1700 W. Washington St.
PHX, Arizona 85007